‘Before the diary’: new novel about Anne Frank’s life to be published in September | Books

‘Before the diary’: new novel about Anne Frank’s life to be published in September | Books

A new novel about Anne Frank’s life before she went into hiding, published in cooperation with the Anne Frank House, will be published later this year.

When We Flew Away: A Novel of Anne Frank Before the Diary by Alice Hoffman tells Frank’s story from the moment the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May 1940 to when her family went into hiding in the annexe of her father’s office building in Amsterdam in July 1942. The novel includes archival material provided by the Anne Frank House.

When We Flew Away by Alice Hoffman.
When We Flew Away by Alice Hoffman. Photograph: Scholastic

Hoffman has written more than 30 novels including Practical Magic and The Dovekeepers. She said that she discovered The Diary of a Young Girl when she was 12, and that it affected her “more than any other” book. “It changed the way I looked at the world. It changed the person I was and the person I would become.

“I wondered what Anne’s life had been like before the diary, and what had caused her to become the writer whose voice spoke for a generation of those whose lives were ruined or ended by the Nazi occupation, a voice that will never allow us to forget what had happened,” she added.

The novel focuses on 11-year-old Anne as Nazi persecution of Jews in Amsterdam intensifies after the German invasion. Her father, Otto, writes to a friend in the US, hoping to move the family to safety there – this is a plotline based on real correspondence between Otto and Nathan Straus Jr, kept in the Straus Historical Society’s archives. However, immigration to the US proves all but impossible, and Otto prepares to hide his family.

“In stunning, affecting language, Alice illuminates that period in Anne Frank’s life when her rights and freedoms diminished, as her voice grew louder and her choice became to write,” said Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade Publishing. “While this novel is intended for readers aged 8-12, we know teens and adults – all of whom know the name Anne Frank – will want to more fully understand who she was and why her story is especially important today.”

Frank was given a diary on her 13th birthday, a month before the family went into hiding. She wrote in the diary for two years while her family were in the annexe, before they were discovered during a police raid on 4 August, 1944. Frank was deported to Auschwitz and transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died in 1945. Her diary was discovered by an employee of Otto’s, who gave the diary to him after the war. Otto published it in Dutch in 1947.

Scholastic editors Miriam Farbey and Lisa Sandell initiated the project and said that they felt it was “imperative” to partner with the Anne Frank House: “They are the foremost researchers of the history of the Frank family and would help us to ensure that the book, while a work of fiction, is very much grounded in fact.”

The book will be published by Scholastic Press on 17 September in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

“We can highly recommend Alice Hoffman’s novel of Anne Frank’s life, set in the dramatic and terrible circumstances of those first war years,” said Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House. “We hope it will persuade young readers that contributing to a better world is both necessary and possible.”

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